THE INCA CULTURE

Inca Culture The central Andean zone of South America has one of the richest environments for important ancient civilizations anywhere in the world. Centuries before the development of Europe, cultures were developing in this region, they appeared and disappeared, some superimposing others, until a culture developed, that would become one of the most important civilizations of all time: "The Inca Empire".

Aldean Inca Around approximately 1200 BC the first cultures began to develop in the area around the north coast of the present day Peru. At this time it is possible to see the first indications of small nuclei villages which later became Andean towns. As years went by these became religious centres that continued to transform into populous city centre with markets, and religious, political, and administrative organs.

Agriculture Inca The economy was based on the development and control of large territorial areas. These areas were dedicated to stockbreeding and agriculture. The control of these areas was maintained by a system of taxation which not only included a contributions of commodities, but also the use of the people’s labour for public works, or service to the higher classes.

Chicama - Chan chan It is estimated that these higher classes had extraordinary wealth, a fact verified by archaeological finds, especially in the tombs of gentlemen from a Pre Inca culture known as the “Right culture”. This culture is thought to have initiated the civilisation of the valleys of Chicama and Right, around 200 BC. They also began to expand into other valleys. Other civilizations of importance began to appear in different areas in the north of Peru and present day Bolivia, these cultures after centuries of development would help to form the Inca Empire. They all left behind their cultural backgrounds as an inheritance for those who would fill their space and in their way helped the development of one of the most important civilisations ever to exist in South America.

Incas The Inca Civilisation began approximately 1100. Like all great civilisations the Incas have legends surrounding their origins. The Incas had many origin myths. In one, Ticei Viracocha sent forth four sons and four daughters to establish a village. Along the way, Sinchi Roca was born to Manco and Ocllo two of Ticei´s children. Sinchi Roca then led them all to the valley of Cusco where they founded their new village. There Manco became their leader known as Manco Capac.

Titicaca In another origin myth, the sun god Inti ordered Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo to emerge from the depths of Lake Titicaca and to go forth and found the city of Cusco. They travelled by means of underground caves until reaching Cusco where they established Hurin Cusco, or the first dynasty of the Kingdom of Cusco.

Another story surrounding the founding of Cusco states that when Manco Capac arrived in the valley of Cusco he sunk a stick into the ground to check its fertility on seeing that the land was fertile Manco Capac settled his people.

Ceramica Inca However whatever way Manco Capac arrived in the valley of Cusco, it is believed that he began to instruct the men in the agriculture, while his sister and wife instructed the women in the arts of the spinning and the weaving. Thus, the people of the valley became the foundation for the first the Inca town. In no time, the learning that they received made this town more superior than the neighbouring tribes. Before long this allowed them to carry their knowledge beyond the borders of the valley of Cuzco, unifying many different cultures along the way either by military conquest or knowledgeable persuasion.

Sinchi Roca The myths were passed down the generations via oral story telling, since the Incas did not have a written method of communication. There probably did exist a Manco Capac who became leader of this tribe. The archaeological evidence seems to indicate that the Incas were a relatively unimportant tribe until the time of Sinchi Roca, who is the first figure in Inca mythology whose existence is supported by physical evidence.

It can probably be said that the Incas originated in the area around the outskirts of Lake Titicaca. Why they travelled to the valley of Cusco cannot be known, maybe they were fleeing hostile neighbours or simply seeking a more apt place for the development of agriculture. What can be definitely said is that they did arrive in the valley of Cusco.

Although the Incas became dominate in the valley of Cusco around the 12th and 13th centuries it was not until 1438 that they began their far reaching expansion under the command of Sapa Inca Pachacuti, whose name literally means ¨world shaker´. During his reign, which was approximately between the years 1438 and 1471, the enlargement of the city of the Cusco was carried out, as was the establishment of many institutions, the organization of the empire began to take place and, territorial expansion started with a fever. Pachacuti was a great warrior, organizer and legislator. Some they have referred to him as the Alexander the Great of Old America.

Tawantinsuyo But expansion did not stop with Pachacuti, Inca after Inca the empire expanded and by the time of Inca Yupanqui, the Inca Empire or Tawantinsuyu covered a territory of some 600.000 km2, covering the present territories of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, and parts of Colombia, Chile and Argentina. And this was the great territorial empire that the Spanish encountered. However Tawantinsuyu was a patchwork of languages, cultures and peoples. Thus the components of this empire were not uniformly loyal, nor were the cultures all fully integrated. For instance the portions of the Chachapoya that had been conquered were almost openly hostile to the Incas. All of which was an advantage to the conquistadors.

However it must be remembered that everything that can be told about this civilisation is relative. This is due to the fact that they never used written forms of communication and therefore much of what is known has been passed down through the centuries orally or collected by the Spanish columnists. The Spanish accounts must also be considered carefully as they obviously carry a certain amount of bias and are not unsusceptible to errors, modifications or personal interpretations. But after taking the above into consideration it still cannot be denied that the Inca Empire was nothing less than magnificent.

THE REPRESENTATIVE CULTURES OF LATIN AMERICA

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